Gene Orientation and Non-coding Transcripts Modulate Noise Levels

Guang-Zhong Wang (Institute of Biophysics, CAS, China), Martin J. Lercher (University of Düsseldorf, Germany), Laurence D. Hurst (University of Bath, UK)

How is noise in gene expression modulated? Do mechanisms of noise control impact genome organization? In yeast, the expression of one gene can affect that of a very close neighbour. As the effect is highly regionalised, we hypothesise that genes in different orientations will have differing degrees of coupled expression and, in turn, different noise-levels. Divergently organized gene pairs, in particular those with bidirectional promoters, have close promoters, maximizing the likelihood that expression of one gene affects the neighbour. With more distant promoters, the same is less likely to hold for gene pairs in non-divergent orientation. Stochastic models suggest that coupled chromatin dynamics will typically result in low abundance-corrected noise (ACN). Transcription of non-coding RNA (ncRNA) from a bidirectional promoter we thus hypothesise to be a noise-reduction, expression-priming, mechanism. The hypothesis correctly predicts that protein-coding genes with a bidirectional promoter, including those with a ncRNA partner, have lower ACN than other genes and divergent gene pairs uniquely have correlated ACN. Moreover, as predicted, ACN increases with the distance between promoters. The model also correctly predicts ncRNA transcripts to be often divergently transcribed from genes that a priori would be under selection for low noise (essential genes, protein complex genes) and that the latter genes should commonly reside in divergent orientation. Likewise, that genes with bidirectional promoters are rare subtelomerically, cluster together and are enriched in essential gene clusters is expected and observed. We conclude that gene orientation and transcription of ncRNAs are candidate modulators of noise.

Preferred presentation format: Poster
Topic: Genomics and genetics

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